Michigan Conservation Officer Breaks Up Major Poaching Ring in St. Clair County
Six suspects recently were charged with illegally taking deer and shining after a two and one-half month investigation by a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer into a poaching ring operating in St. Clair County in late 2006.
The poachers may have illegally killed as many as 60 white-tailed deer in an area ranging from Port Huron to Capac.
Using a spotlight and powerful scope mounted on one of their .17 caliber hunting rifles, the suspects admitted to shooting at 75 to 100 deer in the area, killing as many as 60. Many of the deer were left unrecovered; while some were sold and others had only their choice steaks removed. The suspects admitted to also shooting at rabbits and domestic cats, and one admitted to shooting at a cow.
Four of the suspects pleaded guilty to the charges and paid fines. Two other cases are pending in St. Clair County Probate Court because the suspects were juveniles at the time of the incidents. The suspects ranged in age from 16 to 20.
DNR works overtime to retrieve excavator
By VICTOR SKINNER
GLEN ARBOR — Ham Hobson is pretty sure that a weak spot in the ice, not miscalculated ice strength, caused his crew to work overtime to pull a state-owned excavator from the bottom of Glen Lake.
That overtime tab is on top of a $7,275 bill from Elmer's Crane and Dozer Inc., a local construction company the state Department of Natural Resources hired last week to drag the soggy excavator to shore, said Mary Dettloff, spokeswoman for the DNR.
"Of that, $1,400 is cable we had to purchase ... and that cable is an item apparently we get to keep,” Dettloff said.
"There was overtime incurred by five people who worked on Saturday and there was a total three hours of overtime on Friday,” she said.
The DNR's 19-ton John Deere was perched on about 16 inches of ice when the machine crashed into the lake the afternoon of Feb. 20, just as Hobson's three-man crew prepared to dredge a boat access site.
Workers also had parked a six-ton dump truck about 50 feet away from the DNR-owned excavator — a total of about 25 tons of equipment on the ice when it collapsed, said Hobson, unit supervisor for the DNR's Grawn field office.
Workers tried to drive the machine through about a foot-and-a-half of water to shore, but became stuck in the muck.
Several DNR workers and Elmer's employees broke a path through the ice with another excavator and used two large loaders to tow the machine out of the muck to shore the afternoon of Feb. 24.
"We measured it and we had 16 (inches of ice). The thickness was there but the quality wasn't good,” Hobson said. "We dredged that channel in 1992 with the same method.”
The DNR bases safe ice thickness figures on past experience.
"The staff that was out there had 13 years of experience in dredging,” Dettloff said.
But 16 inches of ice isn't enough to hold 25 tons, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose safe ice thickness figures are based on physics and verified with field experiments.
"If ... there is no pre-conditions or cracks in the ice, then 20 inches is sufficient for 25 tons,” said Leonard Zabilansky, research civil engineer for the Corps. "The 20 inches is based on a continuous ice sheet. If you're working near an open hole, you may need more.”
Hobson said ice flexes to rest on the shallow lake's bottom, giving it enough support to hold the equipment.
"The ice will sink down to the lake bottom and set there so you can work,” Hobson said.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials said they won't inspect the lake for possible fuel or other contamination, and the DNR faces no fines.
"We've had bulldozers ... and other equipment go through the ice before,” said Brian Myers, environmental quality analyst with the DEQ's Cadillac office. "We just want people to get them out as fast as they can.”
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